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December 30, 2012
NC State junior left tackle Rob Crisp understands change, having gone through several during his prep career.
Crisp made the move to Chapel Hill (N.C.) High to Raleigh (N.C.) Athens Drive, and went on to finish of his Rivals.com five-star prep career and earning a spot in the coveted Army All-American Bowl.
The stakes are much higher, but Crisp will have his fourth different head coach in a six-year span with the arrival of Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren to NC State in replacing Tom O'Brien. Crisp got to meet Doeren briefly, but he's ready to get to work in the future.
"I'm used to the whole coaching change," said Crisp, who has had five different offensive line coaches since his freshman year of high school, with a sixth possibly on the way. "It's a situation that everyone has to adjust and overcome. We are here to play football, and that's the one thing we came to do. No matter who coaches us, it's the same outcome — we are here to win games and that is what we are going to do for this University."
Crisp knew during the recruiting process that he was going to pick a college based on multiple factors and not just the coaching staff. The Rivals.com No. 13-overall player could have played just about anywhere.
"There were definitely other factors in why you pick a school because you just don't pick a school because of the head coach," Crisp said. "A head coach does have an impact on why you make a certain decision, and Coach O'Brien was a reason why I came to the University, but not the only reason why. We have a new guy coming in, and it's all about winning games."
For now, he's preparing to play Vanderbilt on Monday in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn. Playing an SEC opponent resonates with Crips.
"It gives us a chance to redeem myself and make a stand against an SEC Conference school after what happened in our first game [losing 35-21 to Tennessee on Aug. 31]," Crisp said. "It gives us a chance to make a name for ourselves against the SEC, and hopefully, we come out with a victory."
Crisp, redshirt junior guard Duran Christophe and redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyson Chandler return with starting experience on the offensive line for next year. Crisp is ready to be a team leader for the Wolfpack.
"Honestly, I work my butt off every day in practice," Crisp said. "I try to work myself hard since I've been here, and hopefully, guys look at me as setting the tone for what we are doing. I wouldn't say I'll be considered a leader, but I'm going to bust my butt like I have been."
The 6-foot-7, 312-pounder wants to get stronger, faster and agile under new strength and conditioning coach Jason Veltkamp.
Crisp already knew that his senior year was already going to be a big one as he gets closer to earning his degree and pursue his NFL dream. He knows what is needed for the latter.
"I want to stay healthy and be in the game," said Crisp, who missed five games with a lower back injury. "I need to continue to work my butt off, get better and have a better feel for the game. I need to find out what is happening in the game before it happens. Just get better football knowledge."
Crisp is also becoming a role model for others off the field. Crisp was diagnosed with diabetes when he 13 years old and remembers watching former Gonzaga star basketball player Adam Morrison live out his dream of making the NBA while being diabetic. Crisp said he has helped little kids in a similar fashion, though on a smaller scale than Morrison's national battle.
"Growing up when I first became diabetic, Adam Morrison at Gonzaga was one of my role models and who I looked up," said Crisp, who was a Division I basketball prospect in high school. "It's definitely hard, especially when I first became a diabetic. I was positioning to taking shots and checking my sugar, it was overwhelming."
The nutritional team at NC State has also played a key role for Crisp.
"They've helped me so much and know more than I do, to be honest with you," Crisp said. "It's relaxing for me and I'm fine with it now."
Crisp has spoken out to little kids with diabetes and let them know to not give up on their dreams.
"I understand that some people look up to me, but I don't look at myself as a role model," Crisp said. "I'm just a guy who does what he is supposed to do. If people look up to me for doing that, then I just pat myself on the back.
"I've talked to numerous amount of kids on the things that I've went through, from growing up, being diabetic and also moving to a family [Singer family] where it's not my own with the custody change. I've talked to a ton of kids about how to stay determined and fight for what you want to do."